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Letter to the Editor: A Thanks for Voting Down Measure S

Dan McMullan, of the Disabled People Outside Project and "No on S" campaign writes in.

-By Dan McMullan

I remember N and O, the sitting law of 20 years back. The crowd was so big that we had to hold the Council meeting at the Berkeley High Auditorium. The lies they told then seemed slicker. Today they just say anything, any lie.

Even on the night after the Election Gina Cova was writing for the Daily Cal that Measure S was about "Sidewalk Encampments" not just the simple act of sitting. Sidewalks Encampments have been illegal for quite some time ( 647 (J) P.C.)  A penal code I know only too well. I love to have on my tombstone." Finally. I'm not violating 647 (J)."

But let's be real, I'm too poor for a decent burial.

Another write-up in Berkeleyside has Emile Raguso stating that  "Measure S is Berkeley’s second attempt to pass a law limiting where and when people can sit on sidewalks. (A1994 attempt, which included lying on the sidewalk as well, later was repealed by the City Council, after initial approval by voters. 

The ACLU challenged the law before it went into effect and, in 1997, “a newly elected Berkeley City Council voted to repeal the sit-and-lie ban.”)

Actually the courts in Oregon had ruled these laws unconstitutional and it looked like California was poised to follow suit so they wisely settled the ACLU complaint. And there have been more than two attempts. I feel like I've been fighting this crap for years...In my younger days getting it right mattered and playing fast and loose with the facts could lead to a short career in the news biz.

This year they had a Measure N and O too. It was about taking care of Berkeley's pools. It failed. It failed because where would Berkeley Politics be without Dirty Pool? And when it came to S, the Yes on S got as dirty as it gets. It's hard for me to imagine how Berkeley's business people keep falling for this same one trick pony. Instead of doing some real work, let's blame people sitting...again! What real work you ask? I can think of dozens of things to bring people back to Telegraph. People came to Telegraph for that fabled vibe. One of it's best parts being it's street music ians. Telegraph should hold a " Telegraph World Street Musician Competition."

Every year. We should close off the street between Dwight and Bancroft permanently. Let people walk around, check out the vendors.  Look at Haste and Telegraph. When Andy Ross attacked the poor. He started a trend that continues to burden Tele with some bad, bad Karma. These policies hurt people, even killed some. There's a price to pay for that.

Let us bring back the best of that old vibe and help those in need with some genuine good will and imagination.

A lot of people sitting around are poor people that have places to stay, but they cost so much, they have  no money left to do anything. Why not a program in cooperation with local business that gives these people credits for time they put in volunteering in Berkeley. These credits can be used to go to movies, get something to eat. Get items they need. ect. I would also like to develop something I call "E.T. (Errant Teenager) phone home." That puts kids on the streets in touch with their families. These are just a few things on my mind and they are not perfect or a cure all but they sure beat the lame scapegoating and negative impressions our business leaders have been killing us with. Try getting some new more positive and nice people to head the Telegraph BID and the D.B.A. 

People willing to do great things and stop moaning about how bad these places are. Who reading their whining, would ever want to buy what they are selling?? John Caner with a huge hilltop villa called "Tip Top" in Sonoma wants to begrudge some poor person a piece of sidewalk? And Roland Peterson has done pretty well for himself with Tax Payer money and Perks. For What? Then we come to Dr. Davida Coady (where's my St Michael medal?) and the whole Options scam. On election day Dr.Coady sent Options clients over to John Caner' s to pick up Yes on S literature to pass out at voting stations.

These are people that Dr.Coady holds the power to throw in Jail over. Options people are the very people that would get tickets if Measure S  passed but they are too terrified to say NO. Just as they are too terrified to say NO when she tells them they are needed to talk up Options at the City Council come money time and they were too terrified to say No when Dr.Coady (obviously fearing a loss in her power to JAIL) came out against Prop. 36. 

Prop 36 gave first time offenders the option to go to a real program rather than jail. Why would someone who runs a program be against a proposition that supports programs? Because the City Council and Dr.Coady's little "wink, wink" is that Options is mainly just a stick to run poor people out of Berkeley. And now today Options has no problem with sucking up all that Prop 36 money. When I think of sitting laws, I am reminded of Kevin Freeman. His crime? Being poor. Through the Options model he should of left town. But he didn't. 

So he needed some more jailing. Enough jailing to get his brains splattered all over a cell by a homicidal maniac. That got him off our sidewalks. I knew Kevin, a gentle, generous man. I'm still mad about, and sad about, what happened to him. That's why I want to thank you Berkeley Thank you for seeing through the B.S.

Thank you for doing the right thing in the privacy of the voting booth Councilman Jesse Arreguin said. "Berkeley's spirit is better than this law". And some said he was naive. But, no. He was right. 

And this was one of Berkeley's finest moments. Now let's get to some real work.

Mary December 03, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Don't thank me - I voted for it. But thanks to people like you who think that only the street people have rights, our sidewalks, especially downtown, are being taken over more and more by professional panhandlers, weirdos, addicts, runaway teenagers, you name it, to the point where just walking downtown is a miserable experience. Thanks to people like you, I take the bus to Emeryville or El Cerrito Plaza when I need to buy basic things like socks or shoes or lingerie instead of taking a short walk to downtown Berkeley, where there are no longer any stores that sell such things. I could go on and on, but there is no point because you are not going to listen.
tr December 05, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Blame landlords asking ridiculously high rents for the vacancies. I see Gordon and MRE for rent signs all over Berkeley, not just downtown and Telegraph. For all the time and $ spent trying to make being homeless a crime, Yes on S did not accomplish anything positive. I like the approach of the NYC cop regarding a guy sitting on the sidewalk. Gift certificates for food are aw way to ensure that spare change is going to feed a person. Stop giving cash and panhandlers will move.

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